Nostrathomas Predicts: We Are Finally Ready for Some Football

It’s the start of the NFL’s Covid-19 era as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans

After six weeks of training camp and no preseason games the NFL has successfully navigated the minefields of 2020 to get to the kickoff of Week 1. In a rematch of last season’s Divisional Round slugfest, the Super Bowl LIV Champion Kansas City Chiefs are hosting the Houston Texans.

The fact that the NFL bypassed sending the Baltimore Ravens (top seed in the AFC in 2019) to Kansas City shows where the league is hoping to shine its spotlight over the next decade. Showcasing a Patrick Mahomes duel with Deshaun Watson is the NFL’s attempt to replicate Brady/Manning magic between two of its bright young stars.

These two teams played each other twice in 2019, both times in Kansas City. In Week 6, with his team down 24-23 in the fourth quarter, Watson engineered a 93-yard, fourth quarter drive to lead the Texans to a 31-24 victory. Then came their AFC Divisional Round rematch. Houston jumped out to a 24-0 lead before Patrick Mahomes started the drum solo. Four, second quarter touchdown passes began the beat down that resulted in a 51-31 thrashing.

For Thursday night’s season kickoff, at the time of this writing, the Chiefs are nine point favorites over Houston with the over/under total sitting at 54.5.

Kansas City is a team still loaded to make another Super Bowl run this season. While everyone knows what the Chiefs offense can do, their defense doesn’t get the credit it deserves. In 2019, they were fifth in the league for both their 80.8 defensive passer rating and 7.2 net passing yards per attempt allowed.

On the Houston side, quarterback Deshaun Watson doesn’t have the miracle hands of DeAndre Hopkins to target anymore. Hopkins was traded away to the Arizona Cardinals along with a 2021 fourth-round draft pick for running back David Johnson and a second-round pick.

Johnson will be the wild card in the Texans offensive mix. If healthy he’s capable of being the runner that Watson needs to balance his passing attack, which will have the newly acquired Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb teaming with Kenny Stills and Will Fuller. Johnson can also be a tough target to cover coming out of the backfield.

The Texans have yet to win a Week 1 game with Watson at the controls. In the meantime Kansas City has won five straight openers. That, along with the quick-strike capability of the Chiefs offense should make the -9 spread an easy pick for the season opener. Too easy actually. There are a couple of trends that have emerged this week that need to be taken into account.

Even though two-thirds of the public money has been coming in on the favored Chiefs the line has dropped from an open of -10 to -10.5 to -9. Two-thirds of public money has also come in on the over yet the number has dropped from 56.5 to 54.5. Considering the betting trends, both the spread and total should be moving in the opposite direction.

The takeaway from those numbers is that professional betters (sharps) are pumping big dollars into the sports books on the side of the Texans and the under.

What the sharps may be taking into consideration that has flown under the radar of the general public is that there have been no preseason games this year. You can’t replicate game speed on the practice field.  It’s very possible that this game could be very sloppy early as both teams adjust to the pace of real football.

Houston is 9-3-2 against the spread in their last 14 regular season games on the road and 8-3 in their last 11 as road underdog. Nostrathomas is not telling you that the Texans will win or that the under has a chance of going under on Thursday night. What he is telling you is, follow the professional money and take Houston to keep the game within nine points.

Kansas City Chiefs 30 Houston Texans 23

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